We are now in Palmer, AK. The holiday weekend seemed to sneak up on us and left us without any plans or reservations. Since we know that holiday weekends in some campgrounds can get a little rowdy – and that isn’t really our scene – we opted to go for an RV park. RV parks tend to be a little quieter since they are usually full of travelers as opposed to locals looking to get away for the weekend. Paradise Alaska RV Park in Palmer has amazing reviews and, so far, has lived up to the hype. Prices are reasonable, too…for an Alaskan RV park.
Very close to Palmer is Independence Mine. This is a gold mine that operated in the 1930s, 40s, and early 50s, before closing in 1951. During its peak year, 1941, there were 204 men employed and it produced 34,416 ounces of gold, worth today’s equivalent of $17,208,000! Today, it is a State Historical Park and there are a number of buildings still remaining, in various conditions. We spent several hours wandering around the grounds, touring the inside of the buildings that are in good enough repair to be open, and marveling at the spectacular mountains that surround it!
Across the road from Independence Mine is the hike to Gold Cord Lake. The hike up to the lake is a bit steep, and the trail can be difficult to follow at times, but it is a fairly short hike (1.6 miles) and the gorgeous lake and views at the end are worth every step! We were surprised to find that the lake is still mostly covered in ice! That didn’t stop several crazy kids from jumping in. We were not among them!
By this point, the day had gotten away from us. We spent way more time at the mine than we expected to, so we had run out of time to do the second hike we had planned for the day. We did still have time to drive up to Hatcher Pass and make a quick stop at Summit Lake, though. Hatcher Pass is only at 3,886 feet of elevation, but it feels so much higher! We both commented that it reminded us of Independence Pass in Colorado which is at 12,095 feet! It seems strange to feel like you are way up in the mountains, when the elevation isn’t really all that high!
Summit Lake was another really pretty mountain lake that, again, was mostly snow and ice covered. It was so cold and we were hungry, so we didn’t stay long, but we can definitely see another trip to the Hatcher Pass area in our future, if not on this trip then most definitely on the next! The Palmer area in general is gorgeous and we aren’t sure the few days we have planned here will be enough. Will we stay longer now? Hit it again on our way through later in the summer? Save it for a future trip? Only time will tell, but no matter what, we believe we will be back!
Until next time!
P.S. Our last post left with us having one more chance to see Denali from a relatively close distance. We were extremely hopeful, and we were not disappointed! We woke on Saturday morning in Talkeetna to clear skies and beautiful sunshine. A quick walk from our camping spot to the viewing area revealed that amazing mountain in all its glory! We are so happy we stuck around the one more day it took to get the view!